Minor makes season debut for Braves in opener with Giants

( - The Atlanta Braves hope to get a boost in their rotation with the expected season debut of Mike Minor Friday in the opener of a three- game series versus the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field.

Both the Braves and Giants currently lead their respective divisions.

Minor has been slowed by both a urinary tract procedure and left shoulder tendinitis. Minor went 13-9 with a 3.21 earned run average in 32 starts last season and made five rehabilitation appearances (4 starts) and completed a bullpen session Tuesday in Miami.

The southpaw posted a 2-2 mark and a 4.43 ERA in the minors and appears ready to join the NL East-leading Braves.

"I feel good, they just wanted to make sure I made all of my preparations," Minor said.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Minor looks good and just wanted to err on the side of caution before bringing him back to the big leagues. Minor is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in four career starts against the Giants.

Atlanta could use a boost right about now after suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins. The club entered the set winners of four straight, but couldn't salvage Thursday's finale with a 5-4 loss. Evan Gattis hit a solo homer to lead off the sixth inning, but Miami plated two runs in the seventh to stay ahead for good.

Giancarlo Stanton and Casey McGehee both had RBI singles for Miami and Braves reliever Ian Thomas suffered the loss.

"The way they scored in the seventh inning, they got a couple balls to drop and they got some ground balls that got through the infield off of Carpenter," Gonzalez said. "We had some opportunities. Now we take a flight home and stop this losing streak."

Ervin Santana started for the visitors and did not record a decision, as he hurled six innings of three-run ball. B.J. Upton hit a three-run homer in the third inning and Chris Johnson ended with three hits for the Braves. Upton has hit safely in 15 of his last 18 games.

The Braves will start a nine-game homestand Friday versus San Francisco, St. Louis and Chicago (Cubs), and have a 9-3 record at Turner Field.

San Francisco opens its 10-game road trip on a hot note, having won two in a row, six of seven and seven of the last 10 games. This will be the first of two 10-game road trips for the Giants this season.

The Giants took a three-game series from the San Diego Padres with Wednesday's 3-2 win. Buster Posey's RBI single in the seventh inning stood as the winning hit and the Padres' rally fell short. Brandon Hicks homered for the Giants, who saw starting pitcher and former Brave Tim Hudson improve to 4-1 with 8 2/3 strong innings of two-run ball. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.

"I was able to get down in the strike zone and stay down in the zone, work ahead in the count," Hudson said. "Guys were making some good plays behind me. It was a fun night for us."

Hudson has gone at least seven innings in all six starts this season.

Sergio Romo got the final out for his seventh save.

The Giants, who are 12-1 when scoring first, will also visit Pittsburgh before returning to the west coast for a four-game series in Los Angeles.

Taking the mound for San Francisco Friday at Turner Field will be two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is 1-1 with a less-than-stellar 5.96 ERA in five starts and lasted only 4 2/3 innings in Saturday's 5-3 win over Cleveland. He did not post a decision and allowed three runs -- two earned -- and a season-high nine hits.

Lincecum is 1-0 in two road appearances and has made 13 career starts against the Braves, compiling a 7-6 mark and a decent 2.99 ERA in that stretch.

San Francisco went 4-3 against Atlanta last season, but lost two of three at Turner Field from June 14-16.